MANCHESTER, England -- Kevin De Bruyne's injury setback has been offset by the form of Bernardo Silva, who has waited patiently for his chance, according to Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola.
De Bruyne is expected to miss around two more months after injuring a knee in training in August.
Silva, 24, who joined City from Monaco in 2017, spent much of his first season coming off the bench as a winger, but has made an impact filling De Bruyne's role this year and was at his creative best in the 3-0 win over Fulham on Saturday.
"He is the most loved guy in the locker room and he played 90 minutes. It's always there," Guardiola told a news conference. "In the beginning it was a little bit difficult. He came from France to England, and even for me, I needed a period to know, to understand a little bit, and everything about the way we wanted to play and in the way that we are aggressive without the ball, sometimes we need more time.
"He can play there, because he can fight. He is skinny, small, but he is -- wow."
Silva, who made 53 appearances last season, had his first preseason disrupted by a late start after playing for Portugal in the Confederations Cup.
But after his country's round-of-16 exit from the World Cup in July, Silva flew to the United States to play in the International Champions Cup -- the only World Cup player to do so for City.
"I am happy because I am helping the team and happy because I am playing well," Silva said. "I hope I can continue this way.
"I can play either in the centre, wide, whatever the manager think is best for the team. In the centre, I am feeling well right now. It depends on the games. I am feeling comfortable both ways."
Silva believes that familiarity with Guardiola's system has helped set him up for success.
"The second season is always easier than the first one," he said. "When you change, it is always more difficult. You have to adapt to the way the new team plays. You have to adapt to your teammates, to the league, the referees, and obviously, I have a lot more confidence. I feel better with the team and I hope I can do better than last season."
Guardiola said it is "almost impossible" to be more pleased with Silva's development than he is.
"He deserves to play all the minutes he plays," Guardiola said. "He's a good example for all of the guys. I don't forget the behaviour he had last season when he played a lot but didn't start. I don't forget that behaviour in front of his teammates. He's an example.
"If I stay here, this guy will stay here. He's smarter than the others ones because normally, when you want to fight with one guy one against one, he will lose 10 out of 10. But he's so clever that he finds the right moment when they are not stable."
Meanwhile, Benjamin Mendy, one of Silva's former Monaco teammates, missed his first game of the season with what Guardiola said was a knee injury.
Mendy missed most of last season after tearing the ACL in his left knee but Guardiola is hoping it is not a major setback.
"Mendy was injured," Guardiola said. "The last days he had a problem with the knee. I don't know how many days [he will be] out."